The Minnesota Vikings took a serious punch to the gut when Dalvin Cook went down with a torn ACL in Week 4 last year in a home loss to the Detroit Lions.
As a rookie, Cook became one of the NFL’s hottest young players, opening his career with 354 yards on just 74 carries and catching 11 passes for 90 yards in the team’s first three-and-a-half games. Since going down, the Vikings’ 2017 second-round pick has spent nearly every day at the team facility rehabbing.
He was on the field Tuesday going through workouts with the rest of the team – albeit at a slower pace than normal.
“It’s a journey,” Cook said. “You have to trust yourself and know that you did everything in your power to get the knee back to where it’s at. I attacked this thing every day, I did what I needed to do to get to this point, so I had no doubt when I took the field that it was where I wanted to be.”
The former Florida State star not only battled the physical aftereffects of a torn ACL, but the mental aspect of sitting out while his team went 13-3 and reached the NFC Championship game.
“That first few weeks, it’s challenging, you question yourself and do I still want to do this,” Cook said. “You have [trainer Eric Sugarman] pushing on your leg and you are ready to hit him across the head. It’s a lot. It’s an injury that can make you or break you.”
“You dig deep and you soul search,” Cook added. “You just go and say, ‘what do you have in you? How hard do you want this? How much do you want it? What’s your motivation?’ I had to dig deep on a lot of that stuff. I’m still doing a lot of searching for a lot of stuff, but the guys and the people I have helping me in this process, it’s easy.”
One of the ways Cook kept himself engaged throughout the process was by focusing more football philosophy.
“When you know how a defense functions and how your offensive line is supposed to block and you know how the offense works, it helps you as a running back put yourself in position to make plays of the team,” Cook said. “Learning a lot more about defenses and schemes, stuff like that, it can help you elevate your game.”
Sugarman spoke with the media prior to Cook’s session. He said the Vikings’ running back will participate in OTAs on a limited basis with hopes to be fully ready by training camp.
“Dalvin has knocked the rehab out of the park,” Sugarman said. “He’s done a great job. He’s been here every day since the injury occurred post surgery and hasn’t missed a beat transitioning from Winter Park to this new beautiful facility, he’s been here every day with a smile on his face.”